Niamh's Leadership Voyage for Empowerment & Earth

Hello my dear GoFundMe peeps!

I’m Niamh (pronounced 'Neeve'), an Irish writer and science communicator with 2 degrees in Engineering and a PhD in Science and I care passionately about people, education and my planet.

  • I participated in a simulated mission to Mars in 2017 and it changed the way I understood climate change.
  • Communicating what I learned during that mission has been a huge part of my work ever since.
  • And I need your support to continue this vital work.

The aim of my work is
  • to highlight our reliance on planet Earth,
  • to share stories about women in science and space
  • to promote equity and
  • to promote the sustainability of our planet

Why Homeward Bound?

I have an opportunity to join 86 other female scientists on a team expedition to the Antarctic this November as part of our 2-year global leadership programme with an organisation called Homeward Bound. Their programme helps women like me to take up leadership roles globally. We are going to Antarctica to experience firsthand some of the most severe consequences of climate change, and to work together on how women in science need to proactively contribute to a sustainable world.

Your donations go towards funding the last leg of Homeward Bound Projects Women in STEM Global Leadership Programme. Since 2015, they have been gathering a global network of Women in STEM who are equally passionate as I am about science and our planet. By 2025, 1,000 of us will be impacting the decisions made in many quarters for the greater good. I'm so proud to be one of those 1,000 women.

I participated in a simulated mission to Mars in 2017 and it changed the way I understood climate change. I realised that living in the extremes gave me a new perspective on the valuable resources we have on our planet. Communicating what I learned has been a huge part of my work ever since. But I knew that I could do more if I was connected with the cohort of Homeward Bound Women in STEM.

During the pandemic, I joined the sixth cohort of 100 women, as we began an extensive and challenging leadership programme to support women in science. The programme focussed on improving our clarity, confidence, shared vision and strategic capabilities. We will complete the final portion this November at the iconic and challenging landscape which is experiencing some of the most severe consequences of climate change. We voyage to the Antarctic to witness first-hand the implications of climate change on our planet.

I would appreciate any support that you can provide.

How You Can Support Me
I am required to raise €15,000, broken down as follows
  • Expedition voyage €10,000 (Antarctic €10,000, also Arctic €8000)
  • Flights & Travel Insurance €4,000
  • Specialist clothing for expedition €1,000

Offerings I can provide for your kind donations:
  • Brand ambassador- logos on clothing etc
  • PLUS
  • Talks for families and the general public
  • School activities & workshops about our planet and space
  • School visits, talks on climate change

I've been fortunate to make several climate-action-related projects in Ireland, I've spoken about my Mars mission across the globe, connecting it always back to Earth and our reserves of resources.

Here's the first episode from an interactive climate action walk I created as part of Abbeyleix Creative Climate Action Project in 2020/2021.


I didn't start out as a writer and sharer of science and space stories. I came from an average family in Ireland. And like many people, I struggled to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and what I was passionate about (while still being able to pay my bills). I always loved learning facts and writing and meeting people from all around the world. It took me many years to permit myself to pursue a career in what I care about the most.

ABOUT MY SIMULATED MARS MISSION in the Utah desert, 2017
So to live as if you’re on Mars means that we suited up every time we left our living quarters (known as a habitat), which we did daily to collect soil and rock samples. And we brought with us our own limited rations of water and food. In a matter of days on my simulated Mars mission at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. I forgot about my old life on Earth. I started to monitor water in a whole new way. I got used to the loud motor that honked repeatedly every time we used water. To flush the toilet, or to fill a basin, or to water the plants. I got used to only having two pairs of trousers and four tops and that we were miles from anywhere or anyone.

Here's a link to some footage from my mission:

And when I came back to Earth and stepped back into my apartment, I saw it all in a completely new way: my wardrobe of clothes, the piles of towels, bed sheets, books, and cushions. And way too much space for one person. I had missed nor needed any of it.

By leaving Earth for just 15 days, I discovered a new-found appreciation for my planet. And a new focus to share my experiences in a deeply human and relatable way, so that people might understand and appreciate the new perspective that I had experienced.

I learned to change the way I saw myself,
I learned to change the story I told myself


I'm slowly learning that with the right kind of attitude and perseverance, not only I but others, all these other people out there who doubt themselves with the right kind of motivation can achieve the impossible. What if I saw more Irish female scientists as a child? What if I saw them talking about our planet, or had ventured to space? Who could I have possibly been?

I've been reading up a lot lately about incredible Irish women who made significant contributions to science, women who have been erased from our history books: Annie Maunder, Agnes Clerke, Kathleen Lonsdale, Kay McNulty... so many women

So I'm setting out on this expedition to go to Antarctica, another extreme environment, much like my simulated Mars mission. This expedition is something I've dreamed of doing since I first read about our amazing Irish explorer Tom Crean from Kerry. And I've always wanted to follow in his footsteps, and the footsteps of all those great women who have gone before me. I want to use this expedition to Antarctica as an opportunity to encourage other women throughout Ireland to go after their dreams, step out of the box, to believe in themselves. Because if they believe in themselves and they reach out and they accomplish the things that they believe they know they can do, then that benefits everyone in Ireland but also across the globe.

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Niamh Shaw
County Louth

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